Tony Lindsay: Writing with a Purpose!

zorafestival2017Every year for the past five years I have taught a creative writing workshop to high school students during Education Day at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Culture in Eatonville, Florida. And every year, I carry out the same exercise before we discuss the necessary tools to good writing of fiction. I ask them to close their eyes and just imagine the year is 2116 instead of 2016, and it is their great grandchildren who are about to read a novel they wrote a hundred years ago. I suggest that novel will reflect who they are and effect how their great grandchildren view them as a writer and person. Furthermore, it will provide every reader in the year 2016, an idea of the condition of our people, and the nature of our society at that time. My intention is to get them to think about writing with a purpose, and the important role they serve when putting pen to paper or given contemporary technology, fingers to computers.

acornsinaskilletI believe if more Black writers would practice the same exercise they might not produce such trashy, inconsequential works of fiction that gut our communities and reach our children. Maybe some of these writers would put a little more thought into what they publish. Please do not misinterpret what I write; I am not casting aspersions on all our writers. We do have some that give a great deal of thought to their works. One of those authors is Tony Lindsay, an outstanding writer out of Chicago, Illinois. Tony has a MFA from Chicago State School of Creative Writing and has penned seven novels, two short stories and recently completed an anthology of short stories titled, Acorns in a Skillet.

Adhering to our commitment at Prosperity Publications to publish only works that have quality content that are entertaining, enlightening, and empowering, we were proud to be able to publish Tony’s anthology, because it met all our standards. It is a serious work by a serious writer in the same category as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin and Walter Mosley. Tony explains to the reader that his collection of short stories grew out of America’s complex racial interactions. The stories are unsettling in their timely nature, which will stimulate the reader to examine American life and how we live in a country where race matters so intently.

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The constant in these riveting portrayals of American life is race, but not always racial conflict. His collection of short stories is inclusive in the message and ends with a story of unity and a hopeful look to the future; something that every good piece of literature should accomplish and is why we can place Tony in the category of writers with a universal appeal.

tonylindsayI can comfortably state that Tony Lindsay is one of the better Black contemporary writers who refuses to compromise his talent and his message in his writing just to get published. He writes with a purpose because he knows what he puts on paper now will be read one hundred years from now, and he is determined to be remembered as a writer with a message. He has what I refer to as a passion for the art and he places that passion over profit, and that I must admit is very refreshing. He is a throwback to a time when most of our authors wrote because of a burning desire to interpret our world as is, and also how it should be. Those of us who abhor the trashy, sex riddled novels of today must thank Tony for rising above that level and giving us stories that empower, enlighten, and also educate.

I urge you who are serious about reading good and decent works, to reach out and get Tony’s short story anthology, Acorns in a Skillet, and in doing so, make a statement that we do appreciate good writing and will offer our support to those authors who do care about how we will be viewed through our literature in the year 2116.

You can purchase at For an autographed copy contact Please visit our website at and review all our publications.


“Rooted in the African-American Literary Tradition”

Thelma from Good Times: “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”

2015ZORAI am the kind of person who likes to reflect back on his past and feel good about what I have left behind. That is not to say that I don’t also enjoy the present, because today I feel that I am involved in some very satisfying projects. But my past reflects my present and has an impact on my future. For these reasons, I can share with my readers the joy I felt last week at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, when I strolled up the rows of vendors and saw BernNadette Stanis, better known as Thelma from the sit-com Good Times, sitting behind a table in the prime location, autographing copies of her newest book The Last Night: A Caregivers Journey Through Transition and Beyond. A long line of admirers stood waiting for an opportunity to get her to sign their copy of the book, possibly take a picture with her and get a poster of the Good Times show. I soon discovered that she was a featured author of the Festival.

Evidently from the size of the line of admirers seeking the opportunity to take a picture with BernNadette, many others also love to dabble in nostalgia. But we are very choosy about what we allow to settle into our memory bank. And I believe most would agree Thelma and Good Times with J.J., Michael and the other outstanding actors and actresses (especially the late great Esther Rolle) made the show a must-see on Monday nights in the middle 1970’s. Good Times was especially important because it represented the first television show that profiled a complete Black family. Not only were the parents married and the father present, but also actively involved in the everyday life of their children. However, I believe Thelma as the first Black female teenager featured in a television series left a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of the American public. Black families loved the image she portrayed as a young, beautiful and brilliant Black teenager. It was almost like Nina Simone recorded “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” specifically for her.


ebca3bf384c2364b0a34147f201ea1b2BernNadette’s portrayal of Thelma and what she projected on television enamored the public to her. She possessed the attributes of a beauty queen, and also a brainy queen. Her “smarts” shined as much as her looks. And that represented a first for a young Black actress in Hollywood. When I had the pleasure of meeting BernNadette years ago, she mentioned that her role had originally been created as nothing more than to feed J.J. for his punch lines. But Ms. Rolle recognized BernNadette’s talents, and insisted that her part in the show be expanded and once Norman Lear did so, she shined often soaring over everyone else.

Her enduring popularity continued to shine brightly in Eatonville, Florida last Saturday, as lines of men, women and children anxiously awaited their turn to talk with one of our many queens of the race. In her recent book she writes, “Being an author and speaker, I travel and tour all over the United States and people constantly tell me how much they loved Good Times and what that show meant to them growing up. They tell me that their children watch it, even today. They express to me with gratitude the values and lessons it has shown them. But most of all, they call it safe TV.”(Stanis, BernNadette, The Last Night; A Caregivers Journey Through Transition and Beyond, Worthingham Publishing, Beverly Hills, 2015, p. 55)

I am just one of many Black artists who have been rather critical of the roles that our beautiful young actresses are forced to play in today’s media. That is because we still consider Thelma, as the prototype of the image a Black actress should portray in a sit-com or drama that our young girls may view on a weekly basis. Undoubtedly, the transition from a Thelma to the more sordid and questionably immoral roles our Black actresses portray in today’s television series, represents the transition our culture has taken since the late 1960’s and 70’s, when there existed a certain reverence for our race. Now, that seems to have disappeared with the “Crack Epidemic of the 1980’s and 90’s. It has transformed us in an unnatural way, so that we no longer proclaim, “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Instead we now bemoan the gang killings, the deplorable drop out levels of our young from school, and the unacceptable reality of our babies having babies all over this country.

BernNadette Stanis is an artist with many different talents. She spent her early years as an actress, but few know she is also a painter and a writer. Her recent book about her commitment as caregiver during her mother’s final years, is a very heartfelt touching account of a mother/daughter relationship. It is a testament to the fact that BernNadette’s role as Thelma in Good Times reflected her values in real life. The title is adapted from the very last night she spent with her mother, before she passed away from that dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. It is BernNadette’s third book and she is now working on her first novel, a genre that is suitable because of the roles she has played, and continues to play on television. She has a very strong inclination to write fiction and told me that she is determined to complete her first love story by the end of the year. It is rather fitting that she write about love because her entire persona exudes love and hope for her people. I am proud to proclaim that she is my friend.


Meet the Best Young Writers in the Country!

Young Writers Workshop Participants | Zora Festival 2015
Young Writers Workshop Participants | Zora Festival 2015

This past weekend I had the honor and privilege to conduct a creative writing workshop, at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival for the Arts and Humanities in Eatonville, Florida. What made this an exceptional workshop is that the participants were twelve young men and women in grades eight through high school, from Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago, Atlanta and Silver Spring, Maryland. They sat through two intense sessions on Friday and Saturday, thoroughly engaged in the information disseminated to them by Petra Lewis, Tony Lindsay, D. L. Grant and me.

We touched on the elements of the craft of writing effective fiction to include theme, plot, character development, dialogue, setting and scenes. On the final day of the session, we had them to do an opening for a short story they planned to write over the next six months for future publication as an anthology. They tossed and turned in the chairs, got up, stretched, frowned and struggled, but ultimately they read their openings to us. We all were floored and thrilled with the creative words that they had penned to paper and as they read them aloud, we smiled. We knew, right in that room, late Saturday afternoon, that we had some of the most talented, creative young writers in the country. But we also knew, there are many more young talented writers that did not have the opportunity to participate as these youngsters did. The question we pondered was why isn’t this talent being captured in the public schools?  If not for the interest we took in reaching out to find the talent, to work with the talent and to help perfect the talent, many of these young folks would never be recognized for their talent.

We often hear leaders talking about how to improve the quality of our neighborhoods and communities. Let me make a suggestion. Join us in our continuing effort to work with our young, as they develop their skills as writers. And while developing those skills, they also improve on their reading levels. During our session with the youth, one of the students asked the question was it necessary to read in order to be a good writer? I suggested that mediocre writers never read, but great writers not only write, but also read. The point is, you read to become a better writer and to also understand your history and heritage. It helps you to know who you are and allows you to express it through your writing.

I will continue to work closely with my twelve young writers, as they perfect their short stories for publication in the fall. I will also, with the assistance of the adults who served as chaperones for the three days the students were in Eatonville, begin to plan our workshop for next year at the Festival. In 2015, we had only twelve students but next year we plan to double that number and the following year add even more students. Eventually, we can conduct these workshops in different parts of the country, and the number of talented writers will constantly grow. This may not be the perfect solution as an answer to improving the quality of life in many of our communities, but it is what we, as writers, have to offer. Hopefully, others in various professions will do the same. Finally, we do not commit to this for pay but for passion. Do something because it is the right commitment to make and it will always be a more perfect product than when you do it for money.  When we finished our session on Saturday afternoon, all twelve of our writers jumped up and shouted, “We are the best,” and as you look closely at them in the picture that accompanied this post, you are viewing a future Pulitzer Prize Winning Author because they really are the best.

Young Writers on the Move

zora1Over the past five months, since the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, most of our news has been rather depressing and quite negative. Some of my most recent posts have been of that nature because of what has been happening in the real world. But let me share with you a positive story that will occur this weekend at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, in historic Eatonville, Florida. This small but quaint city, just north of Orlando, is the oldest chartered Black city in the country, and is where the great cultural icon wrote her most recognized work, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Over the past six months, I have worked closely with N.Y. Nathiri, Executive Director of the Festival, to organize a two-day creative writing workshop for youth from across the country. For three years I have conducted a brief introduction to creative writing for the local high school students, attending the Friday Education Day at the Festival. However, this year we decided to expand the workshop and make it a two-day writing seminar, for young people not confined to the Orlando area. Initially, I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it off but recognizing the power of the name Zora Neale Hurston, and the opportunity for youth to participate in the festival, not only as writers but also as visitors to the entire event, I thought I had a shot. Now as we prepare to meet in Eatonville on Thursday evening and begin our workshop Friday morning, I can honestly write mission accomplished.

I have a total of fourteen young future writers coming from different parts of the country. They are as follows:

Michael A. Davis, Plainfield Central High School, Plainfield, Illinois (Chicago suburb)

Rashana Jackman, Boys and Girls High School, Brooklyn, New York

T’Kyah Hayes, Academy of Young Writers, Brooklyn, New York

Shafarisi Bonner, St. Joseph High School, Brooklyn, New York

Cameron Browning, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School, Fayetteville, Georgia (Atlanta suburb)

Cecilia Browning, St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, Hapeville, Georgia (Atlanta suburb)

Nina Howard, St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, Hapeville, Georgia (Atlanta suburb)

Amari Harrison, Hapeville Charter Career Academy, Hapeville, Georgia (Atlanta suburb)

Danielle Eatmon, Desoto High School, Desoto, Texas (Dallas suburb)

Johnnie Banks, Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, Dallas, Texas

Cindy Avila, George Gervin Academy, San Antonio, Texas

Cynthia Wright, George Gervin Academy, San Antonio, Texas

Kyana Alcazar, George Gervin Academy, San Antonio, Texas

Najel Franklin, My assistant and great niece, Alexandria, Virginia

I am thoroughly proud of these young people and of the sponsors who will attend the festival and workshop with them. I am proud of my fellow associates who will assist in teaching the workshop. Petra Lewis from New York, Tony Lindsay from Chicago, D. L. Grant, Branch Manager of the Carver Library in San Antonio, and kYmberly Keeton, Academic Librarian/Assistant Professor at Lincoln University’s Inman E. Page Library in Jefferson City, Missouri (kYmberly will not actually attend the workshop, but is preparing a reference guide on all the works written by Zora Neale Hurston as a research tool).

Once these writers return home, they will continue to work on the short story they conceptualized and began at the workshop. We will periodically meet through electronic media, and it is my goal for all of them to finish their stories by June 2015. Prosperity Publications will edit the stories and publish them as an anthology in the fall. Next year we plan to expand the number of cities and young people who participate, and in the years after, many more until we begin to make an impact in the literary community of this country.

You have to know that I have this crazy notion, that my Black brothers and sisters are not happy with the direction of our culture and want to turn it around. We now have identified parents and the chaperones, as well as the schools and organizations supporting this effort. This will work because those of us involved are driven by the passion for the written word, and a commitment to save our children from the ever-increasing negative influences they face, on a daily basis in their lives. We believe they deserve better and we plan to make that happen.

We invite you to join us on this trip with our young writers, who are now on the move for a positive experience about being young and gifted